Neuroanatomic studies of schizophrenia have reported temporolimbic abnormalities. Most magnetic resonance imaging studies have evaluated small samples of primarily men with chronic schizophrenia. Our goal was to evaluate sex differences in segmented temporal lobe subregions with reliable parcellation methods, relating volume with clinical and neurocognitive parameters.
Magnetic resonance imaging was performed in 100 patients with schizophrenia (58 men, 42 women; 39 neuroleptic naive, 61 previously treated) and 110 healthy controls (51 men, 59 women). Gray and white matter volumes of temporolimbic (hippocampus and amygdala) and neocortical regions (superior temporal gyrus and temporal pole) were examined. Symptoms, functioning, and neurocognition were assessed concurrently.
Hippocampal gray matter volume was reduced in men (7%) and women (8.5%) with schizophrenia. In the amygdala, however, decreased volume was evident for men (8%) whereas women (10.5%) had increased volume. Magnetic resonance imaging of the temporal pole showed decreased gray matter in men (10%) and women (8.5%). For the superior temporal gyrus, the decrease exceeded that of whole-brain only in men (11.5%). Volumes were largely uncorrelated with clinical measures, but higher hippocampal volumes were associated with better memory performance for all groups. Cortical volumes were associated with better memory performance in healthy women.
Schizophrenia is associated with reduced gray matter volume in temporolimbic structures. In men, reduction was manifested in all regions, whereas women showed decreased hippocampal volumes but increased amygdala volumes. The abnormalities are evident in patients with first-episode schizophrenia and correlate more strongly with cognitive performance than with symptom severity.